The relationship between human rights and combatting terrorism is increasingly prominent, especially since the ‘war on terror’. Human rights are rights which people are entitled by virtue of being human. It could be argued that an infringement on human rights is acceptable as it is the lesser of two evils compared to terrorism. However, others may argue that an infringement is simply unacceptable and can never be justified. It is also argued to be counterproductive in terms of countering terrorism. There is often much debate regarding human rights and terrorism as it is often seen as a government’s responsibility to protect the right to life of citizens therefore suggesting that both human rights and combatting terrorism should complement one another, in reality however, this is not the case. This essay will explore the ways in which terrorism is combatted, for example through: military, state security and ideological approaches, and the ways in which they do and don’t undermine human rights.
Terrorism is the use of violence for furthering political ends; it seeks to create a climate of fear, apprehension and uncertainty. Global terrorism is aimed at inflicting damage and humiliation on a global power or at transforming global civilisational relations with the key example being 9/11 and al-Qaeda. The significance of terrorism has increased as its impact has become more threatening on global security, for instance 9/11 demonstrated how a global hegemon could still be struck by terrorism – the idea that no country is exempt from terror. However, this argument is limited, while America was attacked, it only happened once, proving that terrorism does not pose a ‘major threat’ to global security as it it is quite rare compared to other global disasters such as famine. However, it is undeniable to ignore that terrorism has acquired a truly global reach. Mass fear has been prompted by terrorism, attacks has quadrupled since 9/11. The Global Terrorist Index showed that in 2002 there were 982 separate attacks. By 2011 that had risen to 4,564.